BY ROBERT BLAIR
ILLUSTRATED BY TWELVE ETCHINGS
EXECUTED BY L. SCHIAVONETTI
FROM THE ORIGINAL INVENTIONS OF
A NEW EDITION
D. APPLETON & COMPANY
HTHIS Issue is founded on the Edition
published by R. H. Cromek in
the year 1808
t/ THE Door of Death is made of Gold,
That Mortal Eyes cannot behold ;
But, when the Mortal Eyes are clos'd,
And cold and pale the Limbs repos'd,
The Soul awakes ; and, wond'ring, sees
In her mild Hand the Golden Keys :
kXThe Grave is Heaven's golden Gate,
And rich and poor around it wait ;
O Shepherdess of England's Fold,
Behold this Gate of Pearl and Gold !
To dedicate to England's Queen
The Visions that my Soul has seen,
And, by Her kind permission, bring
What I have borne on solemn Wing,
From the vast regions of the Grave,
Before Her Throne my Wings I wave ;
Bowing before my Sov'reign's Feet,
(j " The Grave produc'd these Blossoms sweet
, In mild repose from Earthly strife ;
J The Blossoms of Eternal Life ! "
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N.J3. Those Subscribers "whose residences are not attached
to their names live in London.
HpHE Proprietor of this Work feels highly
gratified that it has afforded him an oppor-
tunity of contributing to extend those boundaries
of the Art of Design which are in themselves of
the greatest beauty and value : he takes no other
merit but this to himself, and gratefully acknow-
ledges how much he has been obliged to various
gentlemen of refined taste, artists of high rank,
and men of established literary repute, for the aid
they have been kindly pleased to grant.
To the elegant and classical taste of Mr. FUSELI
he is indebted for excellent remarks on the moral
worth and picturesque dignity of the Designs that
accompany this Poem. Mr. PHILIPS is entitled to
his kindest thanks, for the capitally painted Portrait
of Mr. WILLIAM BLAKE, which is here presented to
the Subscribers ; and to Mr. SCHIAVONETTI he is
under still greater obligations for a SERIES OF
ETCHINGS which, it is not too much praise to say,
no other artist could have executed so ably.
That he might know how far he was warranted
in calling the attention of the connoisseur to what
he himself imagined to be a high and original effort
of genius, the Proprietor submitted the Drawings,
before they were engraved, to the following gentle-
men, members of the Royal Academy of Painting,
in London. He would esteem himself culpable
if he were to dismiss this Advertisement without
publicly acknowledging the honourable and most
liberal testimonial they bore to their excellence.
BENJAMIN WEST, ESQ.,
PRESIDENT OF THE ROTAL ACADEMY.
SIR WILLIAM BEECHEY.
RICHARD COSWAY, ESQ.
JOHN FLAXMAN, ESQ.
THOMAS LAWRENCE, ESQ.
JOSEPH NOLLEKENS, ESQ.
WILLIAM OWEN, ESQ.
THOMAS STOTHARD, ESQ.
MARTIN ARCHER SHEE,
HENRY THOMSON, ESQ.
HENRY TRESHAM, ESQ.
R. H. CROMEK.
LONDON, July 1808.
THE moral series here submitted to the Public,
from its object and method of execution, has a
double claim on general attention.
In an age of equal refinement and corruption of
manners, when systems of education and seduction
go hand in hand ; when religion itself compounds
with fashion; when in the pursuit of present
enjoyment, all consideration of futurity vanishes,
and the real object of life is lost in such an age,
every exertion confers a benefit on society which
tends to impress man with his destiny, to hold the
mirror up to life, less indeed to discriminate its
characters, than those situations which show what
all are born for, what all ought to act for, and what
all must inevitably come to. __
The importance of this object has been so well
understood at every period of time, from the earliest
and most innocent, to the latest and most depraved,
that reason and fancy have exhausted their stores
of argument and imagery, to impress it on the
mind: animate and inanimate nature, the seasons,
the forest and the field, the bee and ant, the larva,
chrysalis and moth, have lent their real or supposed
analogies with the origin, pursuits, and end of the
human race, so often to emblematic purposes, that
instruction is become stale, and attention callous.
The serpent with its tail in its mouth, from a type
of eternity, is become an infant's bauble ; even the
nobler idea of Hercules pausing between virtue and
vice, or the varied imagery of Death leading his
patients to the grave, owe their effect upon us more
to technic excellence than allegoric utility.
Aware of this, but conscious that affectation of
originality and trite repetition would equally impede
his success, the author of the moral series before us,
has endeavoured to wake sensibility by touching
our sympathies with nearer, less ambiguous, and
less ludicrous imagery, than what mythology, Gothic
superstition, or symbols as far-fetched as inade-
quate, could supply. His invention has been
chiefly employed to spread a familiar and domestic
atmosphere round the most important of all subjects,
to connect the visible and the invisible world, without
provoking probability, and to lead the eye from the
milder light of time to the radiations of eternity.
Such is the plan and the moral part of the
author's invention ; the technic part, and the
execution of the artist, though to be examined by
other principles, and addressed to a narrower circle,
equally claim approbation, sometimes excite our
wonder, and not seldom our fears, when we see
him play on the very verge of legitimate invention ;
but wildness so picturesque in itself, so often re-
deemed by taste, simplicity, and elegance, what
child of fancy, what artist would wish to discharge ?
The groups and single figures on their own basis,
abstracted from the general composition, and con-
sidered without attention to the plan, frequently
exhibit those genuine and unaffected attitudes, those
simple graces which nature and the heart alone can
dictate, and only an eye inspired by both, discover.
Every class of artists, in every stage of their pro-
gress or attainments, from the student to the finished
master, and from the contriver of ornament, to the
painter of history, will find here materials of art
and hints of improvement !
V\^HILST some affect the sun, and some the
Some flee the city, some the hermitage ;
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying through life ; the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb ;
Th* appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These trav'llers meet. Thy succours I implore,
Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of hell and death. The Grave, dread
Men shiver when thou'rt nam'd : nature appall'd
Shakes off her wonted firmness. Ah ! how dark
Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes,
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark
Dark as was chaos ere the infant sun
Was roll'd together, or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound ! The sickly taper,
By glimm'ring through thy low-brow'd misty
Furr'd round with mouldy damps and ropy slime,
2 THE GRAVE
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make thy night more irksome !
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant ! that loves to dwell
'Midst sculls and coffins, epitaphs and worms ;
Where light-heel'd ghosts and visionary shades,
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied thick, perform their mystic rounds.
No other merriment, dull tree ! is thine.
See yonder hallow'd fane ! the pious work
Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot,
And buried 'midst the wreck of things which were :
There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up : hark how it howls ! Methinks
Till now I never heard a sound so dreary.
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul
Rook'd in the spire, screams loud ! The gloomy
Black plaister'd, and hung round with shreds of
And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound,
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead ! Rous'd from their
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horrible, and obstinately sullen
Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night !
THE GRAVE 3
Again the screech owl shrieks ungracious sound !
I'll hear no more ; it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of rev'rend elms,
Coeval near with that, all ragged shew,
Long lash'd by the rude winds; some rift half
Their branchless trunks, others so thin a-top
That scarce two crows could lodge in the same
Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd
Wild shrieks have issu'd from the hollow tombs ;
Dead men have come again, and walk'd about ;
And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd !
Such tales their cheer, at wake or gossiping,
When it draws near the witching-time of night.
Oft in the lone church-yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moon-shine, chequ'ring through the
The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown)
That tell in homely phrase who lie below.
Sudden he starts ! and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels.
Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him,
4 THE GRAVE
Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows ;
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand
O'er some new open'd grave; and, strange to
Evanishes at crowing of the cock !
The new - made widow too I've sometimes
(Sad sight!) slow moving o'er the prostrate
Listless she crawls along in doleful black,
While bursts of sorrow gush from either eye,
Fast falling down her now untasted cheek.
Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man
She drops ; while busy meddling memory,
In barbarous succession, musters up
The past endearments of their softer hours,
Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks
She sees him, and, indulging the fond thought,
Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf,
Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way.
Invidious Grave! how dost thou rend in
Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one !
A tie more stubborn far than nature's band.
Friendship ! mysterious cement of the soul !
THE GRAVE 5
Sweet'ner of life ! and solder of society !
I owe thee much. Thou h^st deserv'd from
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love,
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart,
Anxious to please. O ! when my friend and I
In some thick wood have wander'd heedless on,
Hid from the vulgar eye ; and sat us down
Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
Where the pure limpid stream has slid along
In^r^tefiiLexrctfs through the under-wood,
Sweet murmuring ; methought the shrill-tongu'd
Mended his song of love ; the sooty blackbird
Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note ;
The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose
Assum'd a dye more deep ; whilst every flower
Vied with its fellow plant in luxury
Of dress. O ! then the longest summer's day
Seem'd too, too much in haste ; still the full
Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness
Too exquisite to last ! Of joys departed,
Not to return, how painful the remembrance !
Dull Grave ! thou spoil'st the dance of youthful
Strik'st out the dimple from the cheek of mirth,
6 THE GRAVE
And every smirking feature from the face ;
Branding our laughter with the name of mad-
Where are the jesters now ? the men of health
Complexionally pleasant ? Where the droll,
Whose very look and gesture was a joke
To clapping theatres and shouting crowds,
And made e'en thick-lipp'd musing Melancholy
To gather up her face into a smile
Before she was aware ? Ah ! sullen now,
And dumb as the green turf that covers them !
Where are the mighty thunderbolts of war,
The Roman Cassars and the Grecian chiefs,
The boast of story ? Where the hot - brain'd
Who the tiara at his pleasure tore
From kings of all the then discover'd globe ;
And cried, forsooth, because his arm was ham-
And had not room enough to do it's work ?
Alas, how slim dishonourably slim !
And cramm'd into a space we blush to name
Proud royalty ! How alter'd in thy looks !
How blank thy features, and how wan thy
Son of the morning ! whither art thou gone ?
Where hast thou hid thy many-spangled head,
And the majestic menace of thine eyes,
THE GRAVE 7
Felt from afar ? Pliant and pow'rless now :
Like new-born infant wound up in his
Or victim tumbled flat upon his back,
That throbs beneath the sacrificed knife ;
Mute must thou bear the strife of little tongues,
And coward insults of the base-born crowd,
That grudge a privilege thou never hadst,
But only hop'd for in the peaceful Grave
Of being unmolested and alone !
Arabia's gums and odoriferous drugs,
And honours by the herald duly paid
In mode and form, e'en to a very scruple ;
( O cruel irony ! ) these come too late ;
And only mock whom they were meant to
Surely there's not a dungeon slave that's buried
In the highway, unshrouded and uncoffin'd,
But lies as soft, and sleeps as sound, as he.
Sorry pre-eminence of high descent
Above the baser born, to rot in state !
But see ! the well-plum'd hearse comes nod-
Stately and slow ; and properly attended
By the whole sable tribe, that painful watch
The sick man's door, and live upon the dead,
By letting out their persons by the hour
To mimic sorrow, when the heart's not sad !
8 THE GRAVE
How rich the trappings, now they're all un-
And glitt'ring in the sun ! Triumphant entries
Of conquerors and coronation pomps
In glory scarce exceed. Great gluts of people
Retard th' unwieldy show ; whilst from the case-
And houses' - tops, ranks behind ranks, close
Hang bellying o'er. But tell us, why this waste ?
Why this ado in earthing up a carcase
That's falPn into disgrace, and in the nostril
Smells horrible ? Ye undertakers ! tell us,
'Midst all the gorgeous figures you exhibit,
Why is the principal conceaPd for which
You make this mighty stir ? 'Tis wisely done ;
What would offend the eye in a good picture,
The painter casts discreetly into shades.
Proud lineage ! now how little thou appear'st !
Below the envy of the private man !
Honour, that meddlesome officious ill,
Pursues thee e'en to death ! nor there stops
Strange persecution ! when the Grave itself
Is no protection from rude sufferance.
Absurd ! to think to overreach the Grave,
And from the wreck of names to rescue ours !
THE GRAVE 9
The best concerted schemes men lay for fame
Die fast away ; only themselves die faster.
The far-fam'd sculptor, and the laurell'd bard,
These bold insurancers of deathless fame,
Supply their little feeble aids in vain.
The tap'ring pyramid, th' Egyptian's pride,
And wonder of the world ! whose spiky top
Has wounded the thick cloud, and long out-
The angry shaking of the winter's storm ;
Yet, spent at last by th' injuries of Heaven,
Shatter'd with age, and furrow'd o'er with years,
The mystic cone, with hieroglyphics crusted,
At once gives way. O lamentable sight !
The labour of whole ages lumbers down,
A hideous and mis-shapen length of ruins !
Sepulchral columns wrestle but in vain
With all-subduing Time : her cank'ring hand
With calm deliberate malice wasteth them.
Worn on the edge of days, the brass consumes,
The busto moulders, and the deep cut marble,
Unsteady to the steel, gives up it's charge !
Ambition, half convicted of her folly,
Hangs down the head, and reddens at the tale !
Here all the mighty troublers of the earth,
Who swam to sov' reign rule through seas of
io THE GRAVE
Th' oppressive, sturdy, man-destroying villains,
Who ravag'd kingdoms, and laid empires waste,
And in a cruel wantonness of power
Thinn'd states of half their people, and gave up
To want the rest ; now, like a storm that's spent,
Lie hush'd, and meanly sneak behind the covert.
Vain thought ! to hide them from the general
That haunts and dogs them like an injur'd ghost
Implacable ! Here too the petty tyrant,
Whose scant domains geographer ne'er notic'd,
And, well for neighboring grounds, of arm as
Who fix'd his iron talons on the poor,
And grip'd them like some lordly beast of prey,
Deaf to the forceful cries of gnawing hunger,
And piteous plaintive voice of misery
(As if a slave were not a shred of nature,
Of the same common nature with his lord) ;
Now tame and humble, like a child that's
Shakes hands with dust, and calls the worm his
Nor pleads his rank and birthright. Under ground
Precedency's a jest ; vassal and lord,
Grossly familiar, side by side consume !
When self-esteem, or other's adulation,
Would cunningly persuade us we were something
THE GRAVE n
Above the common level of our kind,
The Grave gainsays the smooth-complexion'd
And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are.
Beauty ! thou pretty plaything ! dear deceit !
That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart,
And gives it a new pulse unknown before !
The Grave discredits thee. Thy charms ex-
Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soil'd,
What hast thou more to boast of? Will thy
Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee
Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid ;
Whilst, surfeited upon thy damask cheek,
The high fed worm, in lazy volumes roll'd,
Riots unscar'd. For this was all thy caution ?
For this thy painful labours at thy glass,
T' improve those charms, and keep them in repair,
For which the spoiler thanks thee not ? Foul
Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well,
And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Look, how the fair one weeps ! The conscious
Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of flowers :
Honest effusion ! The swoln heart in vain
Works hard to put a gloss on its distress.
12 THE GRAVE
Strength too ! thou surly, and less gentle boast
Of those that loud laugh at the village ring !
A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
With greater ease than e'er thou didst the stripling
That rashly dar'd thee to th' unequal fight.
What groan was that I heard ? Deep groan in-
With anguish heavy laden ! let me trace it :
From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man,
By stronger arm belabour'd, gasps for breath
Like a hard hunted beast. How his great heart
Beats thick ! his roomy chest by far too scant
To give the lungs full play ! What now avail
The strong-built sinewy limbs, and well spread
See, how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Mad with his pain ! Eager he catches hold
Of what comes next to hand, and grasps it hard,
Just like a creature drowning ! Hideous sight !
O how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly !
While the distemper's rank and deadly venom
Shoots like a burning arrow 'cross his bowels,
And drinks his marrow up. Heard you that groan !
It was his last. See how the great Goliath,
Just like a child that brawl'd itself to rest,
Lies still ! What mean'st thou then, O mighty
To vaunt of nerves of thine ? What means the
THE GRAVE 13
Unconscious of his strength, to play the coward,
And flee before a feeble thing like man ;
That, knowing well the slackness of his arm,
Trusts only in the well-invented knife ?
With study pale, and midnight vigils spent,
The star-surveying sage close to his eye
Applies the sight-invigorating tube ;
And, traveling through the boundless length of
Marks well the courses of the far-seen orbs,
That roll with regular confusion there,
In ecstasy of thought. But ah ! proud man !
Great heights are hazardous to the weak head :
Soon, very soon, thy firmest footing fails,
And down thou dropp'st into that darksome place
Where nor device nor knowledge ever came.
Here the tongue-warrior lies ! disabled now,
Disarm'd, dishonour'd, like a wretch that's
And cannot tell his ails to passers-by !
Great man of language ! whence this mighty
This dumb despair, and drooping of the head ?
Though strong Persuasion hung upon thy lip,
And sly Insinuation's softer arts
In ambush lay about thy flowing tongue,
i 4 THE GRAVE
Alas, how chop-fall'n now ! thick mists and
Rest, like a weary cloud, upon thy breast
Unceasing. Ah ! where is the lifted arm,
The strength of action, and the force of words,
The well - turn'd period, and the well - tun'd
With all the lesser ornaments of phrase ?
Ah ! fled for ever, as they ne'er had been !
Raz'd from the book of fame ; or, more pro-
Perchance some hackney hunger-bitten scribbler
Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb
With long flat narrative, or duller rhimes,
With heavy halting pace that drawl along
Enough to rouse a dead man into rage,
And warm, with red resentment, the wan cheek !
Here the great masters of the healing art,
These mighty mock-defrauders of the tomb,
Spite of their juleps and catholicons,
Resign to fate ! Proud jEsculapius' son,
Where are thy boasted implements of art,
And all thy well-cramm'd magazines of health ?
Nor hill, nor vale, as far as ship could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook,
Escap'd thy rifling hand ! From stubborn
Thou wrung'st their shy retiring virtues out,
THE GRAVE 15
And vex'd them in the fire. Nor fly, nor insect,
Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research !
But why this apparatus ? why this cost ?
Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave,
Where are thy recipes and cordials now,
With the long list of vouchers for thy cures ?
Alas, thou speak'st not. The bold impostor
Looks not more silly when the cheat's found
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons,
Who meanly stole (discreditable shift)
From back and belly too their proper cheer,
Eas'd of a tax it irk'd the wretch to pay
To his own carcase, now lies cheaply lodg'd,
By clam'rous appetites no longer teas'd,
Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs.
But ah ! where are his rents, his comings in ?
Aye, now you've made the rich man poor in-
Robb'd of his gods, what has he left behind ?
O cursed lust of gold, when for thy sake
The fool throws up his interest in both worlds,
First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to
How shocking must thy summons be, O
To him that is at ease in his possessions,
16 THE GRAVE
Who, counting on long years of pleasure here,
Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come !
In that dread moment how the frantic soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement,
Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help,
But shrieks in vain ! How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer hers !
A little longer, yet a little longer,
O might she stay to wash away her stains,
And fit her for her passage ! mournful sight !
Her very eyes weep blood, and every groan
She heaves is big with horror ! But the foe,
Like a stanch murd'rer steady to his pur-
Pursues her close through every lane of life,
Nor misses once the track, but presses on ;
Till, forc'd at last to the tremendous verge,
At once she sinks to everlasting ruin !
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die ! My soul,
What a strange moment must it be when, near
Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulph in
That awful gulph no mortal e'er repass'd
To tell what's doing on the other side !
Nature runs back and shudders at the sight,
And every life - string bleeds at thoughts of
THE GRAVE 17
For part they must body and soul must part !
Fond couple ! link'd more close than wedded pair.
This wings its way to its Almighty Source,
The witness of its actions, now its judge ;
That drops into the dark and noisome grave,
Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
If death were nothing, and nought after
If when men died at once they ceas'd to be,
Returning to the barren womb of nothing,
Whence first they sprung ; then might the debauchee
Untrembling mouth the Heavens ; then might the
Reel over his full bowl, and when 'tis drain'd
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bugbear Death ; then might the
That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life,
At once give each inquietude the slip,
By stealing out of being when he pleas'd,
And by what way, whether by hemp or steel :
Death's thousand doors stand open. Who could
The ill-pleas'd guest to sit out his full time,
Or blame him if he goes ? Sure he does well
That helps himself as timely as he can,
When able. But, if there's an hereafter
And that there is, conscience, uninfluenc'd
i8 THE GRAVE
And suffer' d to speak out, tells every man
Then must it be an awful thing to die ;
More horrid yet to die by one's own hand !
Self-murder ! Name it not ; our island's shame ;
That makes her the reproach of neighb'ring
Shall nature, swerving from her earliest dictate,
Self-preservation, fall by her own act ?
Forbid it, Heaven ! Let not, upon disgust,
The shameless hand be fully crimson'd o'er
With blood of its own lord ! Dreadful attempt,
Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage
To rush into the presence of our Judge !
As if we challeng'd him to do his worst,
And matter'd not his wrath. Unheard-of tor-
Must be reserv'd for such : these herd together ;
The common damn'd shun their society,
And look upon themselves as fiends less foul.
Our time is fix'd, and all our days are number'd !
How long, how short, we know not: this we
Duty requires we calmly wait the summons,
Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give per- 4
Like sentries that must keep their destin'd stand,
And wait th' appointed hour till they're re-
Those only are the brave that keep their ground,
THE GRAVE 19
And keep it to the last. To run away
Is but a coward's trick : to run away
From this world's ills, that at the very worst
Will soon blow o'er, thinking to mend ourselves
By boldly venturing on a world unknown,
And plunging headlong in the dark 'tis mad !
No frenzy half so desperate as this.
Tell us, ye dead ! will none of you in pity
To those you left behind disclose the secret ?
O ! that some courteous ghost would blab it
What 'tis you are, and we must shortly be.
I've heard that souls departed have sometimes
Forewarn'd men of their death. 'Twas kindly
To knock and give th' alarm. But what means
This stinted chanty ? 'Tis but lame kindness
That does its work by halves. Why might you
Tell us what 'tis to die ? Do the strict laws
Of your society forbid your speaking
Upon a point so nice ? I'll ask no more.
Sullen, like lamps in sepulchres, your shine
Enlightens but yourselves. Well 'tis no
A very little time will clear up all,
And make us learn'd as you are, and as close.
20 THE GRAVE
Death's shafts fly thick. Here falls the village
And there his pamper'd lord ! The cup goes
And who so artful as to put it by ?
'Tis long since death had the majority,
Yet, strange, the living lay it not to heart !
See yonder maker of the dead man's bed,
The sexton, hoary-headed chronicle !
Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole
A gentle tear ; with mattock in his hand
Digs through whole rows of kindred and acquaint-
By far his juniors ! Scarce a scull's cast up
But well he knew its owner, and can tell
Some passage of his life. Thus hand in hand
The sot has walk'd with Death twice twenty years ;
And yet ne'er younker on the green laughs louder,
Or clubs a smuttier tale : when drunkards meet,
None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand
More willing to his cup. Poor wretch ! he minds
That soon some trusty brother of the trade
Shall do for him what he has done for thousands.
On this side, and on that, men see their friends
Drop off, like leaves in Autumn ; yet launch out
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
In the world's hale and undegenerate days
THE GRAVE 21
Could scarce have leisure for ; fools that we
Never to think of Death and of ourselves
At the same time ! as if to learn to die
Were no concern of ours. O more than sottish !
For creatures of a day in gamesome mood
To frolic on eternity's dread brink,
Unapprehensive ; when, for aught we know,
The very first swoln surge shall sweep us in !
Think we, or think we not, time hurries on
With a resistless unremitting stream,
Yet treads more soft than e'er did midnight
That slides his hand under the miser's pillow,
And carries off his prize. What is this world ?
What but a spacious burial-field unwall'd,
Strew'd with Death's spoils, the spoils of animals
Savage and tame, and full of dead men's bones !
The very turf on which we tread once liv'd ;
And we that live must lend our carcases
To cover our own offspring : in their turns
They too must cover their's. 'Tis here all
The shiv'ring Icelander and sun-burnt Moor ;
Men of all climes, that never met before,
And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, the
Here the proud prince, and favourite yet prouder,
His sov'reign's keeper, and the people's scourge
22 THE GRAVE
Are huddled out of sight ! Here lie abash'd
The great negotiators of the earth,
And celebrated masters of the balance,
Deep read in stratagems and wiles of courts.
Now vain their treaty - skill ; Death scorns to
Here the overloaded slave flings down his burden
From his gall'd shoulders ; and, when the stern
With all his guards and tools of power about him,
Is meditating new unheard-of hardships,
Mocks his short arm, and quick as thought
Where tyrants vex not, and the weary rest.
Here the warm lover, leaving the cool shade,
The tell-tale echo, and the babbling stream,
Time out of mind the fav'rite seats of love,
Fast by his gentle mistress lays him down,
Unblasted by foul tongue. Here friends and
Lie close, unmindful of their former feuds.
The lawn-rob'd prelate and plain presbyter,
Erewhile that stood aloof, as shy to meet,
Familiar mingle here, like sister-streams
That some rude interposing rock has split.
Here is the large-limb'd peasant ; here the child
Of a span long, that never saw the sun,
Nor press'd the nipple, strangled in life's porch.
Here is the mother with her sons and daughters ;
THE GRAVE 23
The barren wife ; and long-demurring maid,
Whose lonely unappropriated sweets
Smil'd like yon knot of cowslips on the cliff,
Not to be come at by the willing hand.
Here are the prude severe, and gay coquette,
The sober widow, and the young green virgin,
Cropp'd like a rose before 'tis fully blown,
Or half its worth disclos'd. Strange medley
Here garrulous old age winds up his tale ;
And jovial youth, of lightsome vacant heart,
Whose every day was made of melody,
Hears not the voice of mirth ; the shrill-tongu'd
Meek as the turtle-dove, forgets her chiding.
Here are the wise, the generous, and the brave ;
The just, the good, the worthless, and profane ;
The downright clown, and perfectly well-bred ;
The fool, the churl, the scoundrel, and the
The supple statesman, and the patriot stern ;
The wrecks of nations and the spoils of time,
With all the lumber of six thousand years !
Poor man ! how happy once in thy first state,
When yet but warm from thy great Maker's hand
He stamp'd thee with his image, and well pleas'd,
Smil'd on his last fair work ! Then all was
24 THE GRAVE
Sound was the body, and the soul serene ;
Like two sweet instruments, ne'er out of tune,
That play their several parts. Nor head nor
Offer'd to ache ; nor was there cause they should,
For all was pure within. No fell remorse,
Nor anxious castings up of what might be,
Alarm'd his peaceful bosom. Summer seas
Shew not more smooth when kiss'd by southern
Just ready to expire. Scarce importun'd,
The generous soil with a luxurious hand
Offer'd the various produce of the year,
And every thing most perfect in it's kind.
Blessed, thrice blessed days ! But ah, how
Bless'd as the pleasing dreams of holy men ;
But fugitive, like those, and quickly gone.
O slipp'ry state of things ! What sudden turns,
What strange vicissitudes, in the first leaf
Of man's sad history ! To-day most happy,
And ere to-morrow's sun has set most abject !
How scant the space between these vast ex-
Thus far'd it with our sire ; not long h' enjoyed
His Paradise ! Scarce had the happy tenant
Of the fair spot due time to prove its sweets,
Or sum them up, when straight he must be gone,
Ne'er to return again ! And must he go ?
THE GRAVE 25
Can nought compound for the first dire offence
Of erring man? Like one that is condemn'd,
Fain would he trifle time wjth idle talk,
And parley with his fate. But 'tis in vain.
Not all the lavish odours of the place,
Offer'd in incense, can procure his pardon,
Or mitigate his doom. A mighty angel
With flaming sword forbids his longer stay,
And drives the loit'rer forth ; nor must he
One last and farewell round. At once he lost
His glory and his God ! If mortal now,
And sorely maim'd, no wonder Man has
Sick of his bliss, and bent on new adventures,
Evil he would needs try ; nor tried in vain.
Dreadful experiment destructive measure
Where the worst thing could happen, is suc-
Alas ! too well he sped ; the good he scorn'd
Stalk'd off reluctant, like an ill-us'd ghost,
Not to return ; or, if it did, it's visits,
Like those of angels, short, and far between:
Whilst the black demon, with his hell-scap'd
Admitted once into its better room,
Grew loud and mutinous, nor would be gone ;
Lording it o'er the man, who now too late
Saw the rash error which he could not mend ;
26 THE GRAVE
An error fatal not to him alone,
But to his future sons, his fortune's heirs.
Inglorious bondage ! human nature groans
Beneath a vassalage so vile and cruel,
And it's vast body bleeds through every vein.
What havock hast thou made, foul monster,
Greatest and first of ills ! the fruitful parent
Of woes of all dimensions ! But for thee
Sorrow had never been. All-noxious thing,
Of vilest nature ! Other sorts of evils
Are kindly circumscrib'd, and have their bounds.
The fierce volcano, from his burning entrails
That belches molten stone and globes of fire,
Involv'd in pitchy clouds of smoke and stench,
Mars the adjacent fields for some leagues round,
And there it stops. The big-swoln inundation,
Of mischief more diffusive, raving loud,
Buries whole tracts of country, threatening more :
But that too has it's shore it cannot pass.
More dreadful far than those, sin has laid
Not here and there a country, but a world ;
Dispatching at a wide extended blow
Entire mankind, and for their sakes defacing
A whole creation's beauty with rude hands ;
Blasting the foodful grain, and loaded branches,
And marking all along it's way with ruin !
THE GRAVE 27
Accursed thing ! O where shall fancy find
A proper name to call thee by, expressive
Of all thy horrors ? Pregnant womb of ills !
Of temper so transcendently malign,
That toads and serpents of most deadly kind
Compar'd to thee are harmless ! Sicknesses,
Of every size and symptom, racking pains,
And bluest plagues, are thine ! See how the
Profusely scatters the contagion round !
Whilst deep-mouth'd Slaughter, bellowing at her
Wades deep in blood new-spilt ; yet for to-
Shapes out new work of great uncommon daring,
And inly pines till the dread blow is struck.
But hold ! I've gone too far; too much dis-
My father's nakedness and nature's shame.
Here let me pause, and drop an honest tear,
One burst of filial duty and condolence,
O'er all those ample deserts Death hath spread,
This chaos of mankind ! O great man-eater !
Whose every day is carnival, not sated yet !
Unheard-of epicure, without a fellow !
The veriest gluttons do not always cram ;
Some intervals of abstinence are sought
To edge the appetite ; thou seekest none !
28 THE GRAVE
Methinks the countless swarms thou hast de-
And thousands that each hour thou gobblest up,
This, less than this, might gorge thee to the full.
But ah ! rapacious still, thou gap'st for more ;
Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals,
On whom lank Hunger lays her skinny hand,
And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings :
As if Diseases, Massacres, and Poison,
Famine and War, were not thy caterers !
But know that thou must render up the
And with high interest too ! they are not thine ;
But only in thy keeping for a season,
Till the great promis'd day of restitution,
When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump
Of strong-lung'd cherub shall alarm thy captives,
And rouse the long, long sleepers into life,
Daylight, and liberty.
Then must thy doors fly open, and reveal
The minds that lay long forming under ground,
In their dark cells immur'd ; but now full ripe,
And pure as silver from the crucible,
That twice has stood the torture of the fire,
And inquisition of the forge. We know
Th' illustrious Deliverer of mankind,
The Son of God, thee foil'd. Him in thy
THE GRAVE 29
Thou could'st not hold ; self-vigorous he rose,
And shaking off thy fetters, soon retook
Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent :
( Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall ! )
Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth,
And shew'd himself alive to chosen witnesses,
By proofs so strong, that the most slow assenting
Had not a scruple left. This having done,
He mounted up to Heaven. Methinks I see
Climb th' aerial heights, and glide along
Athwart the severing clouds : but the faint eye,
Flung backwards in the chase, soon drops it's
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing.
Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in ;
Nor are his friends shut out : as a great prince
Not for himself alone procures admission,
But for his train ; it was his royal will,
That where he is there should his followers
Death only lies between, a gloomy path !
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fears !
But nor untrod, nor tedious : the fatigue
Will soon go off. Besides, there's no bye-road
To bliss. Then why, like ill-condition'd children,
Start we at transient hardships in the way
That leads to purer air and softer skies,
And a ne'er-setting sun ? Fools that we are !
30 THE GRAVE
We wish to be where sweets imwith'ring bloom ;
But straight our wish revoke, and will not go.
So have I seen, upon a summer's ev'n,
Fast by the riv'let's brink, a youngster play :
How wishfully he looks to stem the tide !
This moment resolute, next unresolv'd,
At last he dips his foot ; but, as he dips, \
His fears redouble, and he runs away
From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flowers that paint the further bank,
And smiPd so sweet of late. Thrice welcome
That, after many a painful bleeding step,
Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe
On the long - wish'd - for shore. Prodigious
Our bane turn'd to a blessing ! Death disarmed
Loses its fellness quite ; all thanks to him
Who scourg'd the venom out ! Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace. How calm his exit !
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold him in the ev'ning tide of life,
A life well spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green :
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away ;
Yet like the sun seems larger at his setting !
High in his faith and hopes, look how he
THE GRAVE 31
After the prize in view ! and, like a bird
That's hamper'd, struggles hard to get away !
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide ex-
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast-coming harvest ! Then O then
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought ! O how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be dismissed !
'Tis done and now he's happy! The glad
Has not a wish uncrown'd. E'en the lag flesh
Rests too in hope of meeting once again
It's better half, never to sunder more.
Nor shall it hope in vain : the time draws on
When not a single spot of burial-earth,
Whether on land or in the spacious sea,
But must give back it's long committed dust
Inviolate : and faithfully shall these
Make up the full account ; not the least atom
Embezzled, or mislaid, of the whole tale !
Each soul shall have a body ready furnish'd ;
And each shall have his own. Hence, ye profane !
Ask not how this can be? Sure the same
That rear'd the piece at first, and took it down,
Can reassemble the loose scatter'd parts,
And put them as they were. Almighty God
Has done much more ; nor is his arm impair'd
32 THE GRAVE
Through length of days ; and what he can he
His faithfulness stands bound to see it done.
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb'ring
Not unattentive to the call, shall wake ;
And every joint possess its proper place,
With a new elegance of form, unknown
To its first state. Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake it's partner ; but, amidst the crowd
Singling it's other half, into it's arms
Shall rush, with all th' impatience of a man
That's new come home, and, having long been
With haste runs over every different room,
In pain to see the whole. Thrice happy meeting !
Nor time, nor death, shall ever part them more !
'Tis but a night, a long and moonless night ;
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone !
Thus at the shut of ev'n, the weary bird
Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake
Cow'rs down, and dozes till the dawn of day ;
Then claps his well-fledg'd wings, and bears away.
OF THE DESIGNS
By the arrangement here made, the regular progression
of Man, from his first descent into the Vale of
Death, to his last admission into Life eternal, is
exhibited. These Designs, detached from the
Work they embellish, form of themselves a most
I. THE DESCENT OF CHRIST INTO
" Eternal King, whose potent arm sustains
The keys of Death and Hell ! "
II. THE DESCENT OF MAN INTO
THE VALE OF DEATH.
The pious daughter weeping and conducting her
sire onward ; age, creeping carefully on hands and
knees ; an elder, without friend or kindred ; a
miser ; a bachelor, blindly proceeding, no one
knows where, ready to drop into the dark abyss ;
frantic youth rashly devoted to vice and passion,
rushing past the diseased and old, who totters on
crutches ; the wan declining virgin ; the miserable
and distracted widow ; the hale country youth ;
and the mother and her numerous progeny, already
34 OF THE DESIGNS
arrived in this valley, are among the groups which
speak irresistibly to the feelings.
III. DEATH'S DOOR.
The Door opening, that seems to make utter
darkness visible ; age, on crutches, hurried by a
tempest into it. Above is the renovated man
seated in light and glory.
IV. THE STRONG AND WICKED
Extent of limb, a broad capacious chest, heaving
in agony, and prodigious muscular force, so exerted
as to pourtray the excruciating torments of mind and
body, all contribute to give a fearful picture of the
Strong and Wicked Man in the pangs of Death.
His masculine soul is hurried through the casement
in flame, while his daughter hides her face with
horror not to be resisted, and his frantic wife rushes
forward, as if resolved to 'share his fate.
V. THE GOOD OLD MAN DYING.
Never perhaps were two subjects more happily
conceived, and beautifully contrasted, than this and
the former. In that all is confusion, hurry, and
terror ; in this are perfect repose, beatic hope,
and heavenly consolation. Peace in his coun-
tenance, his hand on the gospel, his soul devoutly
ascending to eternal bliss, his affectionate children,
OF THE DESIGNS 35
some in prayer, others believing, or at least
anxiously hoping, that he still lives ; all denote
how great is the happiness of the Good Man in
the Hour of Death.
VI. THE SOUL HOVERING OVER
" How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer hej^jL.! "
VII. THE SOUL EXPLORING THE
RECESSES OF THE GRAVE.
The Soul, prior to the dissolution of the Body,
exploring through and beyond the tomb, and there
discovering the emblems of mortality and of im-
VIII. THE COUNSELLOR, KING,
WARRIOR, MOTHER, AND CHILD.
All are egual in the Grave. Wisdom, Power,
Valour, Beauty, and Innocence, at the hour of
death, alike are impotent and unavailing.
IX. THE SKELETON RE-ANIMATED.
" When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb'ring dust,
Not unattentive to the call, awakes " ;
while the world in flames typifies the renovation of
all things, the end of Time, and the beginning of
36 OF THE DESIGNS
X. THE RE-UNION OF SOUL
The Body springs from the grave, the Soul
descends from an opening cloud ; they rush to-
gether with inconceivable energy ; they meet, never
again to part !
XI. A FAMILY MEETING IN
The sweet felicity, the endearing tenderness, the
ineffable affection, that are here depicted, are suffi-
ciently obvious. The Husband clasps the Wife ;
the Children embrace ; the Boy recognises and
eagerly springs to his Father.
XII. THE LAST JUDGMENT.
Christ coming to judgment in the clouds of
heaven, with the " Thrones set, and the Books
opened." On his knees lies the Book of Life.
The Recording Angels kneel on each side of his
throne, and the Elders are also seated on each side
of Him to judge the world. Surrounding the
throne are the blessed, entering into their joy ; and
arising from these, on each hand, are two clouds of
figures : one with the insignia of Baptism ; the
other with the insignia of the Lord's Supper,
inclosing a glorification of angels, with harps.
Beneath, on the right hand of Christ, are the
OF THE DESIGNS 37
blessed, rising in the air to judgment ; on the left
hand are the cursed : Some are precipitating them-
selves from the face of Him that sitteth on the
Throne (among them is Satan, wound round with
the Serpent), others are pleading their own right-
eousness, and others, beneath, fleeing with banners
and spears among the rocks, crying to the " rocks
to cover them." Beneath these are represented
the harlot's mystery, and the dragon, who flee
before the face of the Judge. In the centre,
standing on the midst of the earth, is the angel with
the last trumpet. On each side of him is an angel :
that on the left is drawing his sword on the wicked ;
that on the right is sheathing his sword on the just,
who are rising in various groups, with joy and
affection, family by family. The angel with the
trumpet, and his accompanying ministers of judg-
ment, are surrounded by a column of flame, which
spreads itself in various directions over the earth,
from which the dead are bursting forth, some in
terror, some in joy. On the opening cloud, on
each hand of Christ, are two figures, supporting the
books of remembrance : that over the just is beheld
with humiliation ; that over the wicked with arro-
gance. A sea of fire issues from beneath the
throne of Christ, destructive to the wicked, but
salutary to the righteous. Before the sea of Fire
the clouds are rolled back, and the heavens " are
rolled together as a scroll."
IN kindly thanking those Ladies and Gentlemen who have so liberally
patronized and befriended the present Work, Mr. CROMEK begs to inform
them, that he is the owner of the celebrated Cabinet Picture, painted by
Mr. STOTHARD, representing THE PROCESSION OF CHAUCER'S PIL-
GRIMS TO CANTERBURY.
He begs to announce his intention of publishing an Engraving from
this interesting composition as speedily as is consistent with the time
necessarily required in the execution of so magnificent an undertaking,
and respectfully submits to his Subscribers, and to other Amateurs of fine
Art, the following Prospectus.
UNDER THE IMMEDIATE PATRONAGE OF
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES.
PROPOSALS FOR PUBLISHING, BY SUBSCRIPTION,
FROM THE WELL-KNOWN CABINET PICTURE
ON THAT SUBJECT,
By THOMAS STOTHARD, ES^ R.A.
TO BE EXECUTED IN THE LINE MANNER OF ENGRAVING,
AND IN THE SAME EXCELLENT STYLE AS THE
PORTRAIT OF MR. WILLIAM BLAKE,
PREFIXED TO THIS WORK,
By LOUIS SCHIA rONETTl, Esq., V.A.
THE GENTLEMAN WHO HAS ETCHED THE PRINTS THAT AT ONCE
ILLUSTRATE AND EMBELLISH THE PRESENT VOLUME.
"Dan Chaucer grete him well"
THE reputation of Chaucer, the reformer of the
English language, and the father of English
poetry, may, without presumption, be thought to justify
the Proprietor in presenting the Public with a work
designed to bring together, in one point of view, and to
represent, in their true forms, living features, and adven-
titious appendages, all the characters of the Canterbury
Tales. These Tales are the most pleasing of Chaucer's
Works. It is the characters which are described in the
general Prologue to them which Mr. Stothard has now
transferred to the Canvas ; and with so much truth and
sprightliness, and in a manner so agreeable, that the
Poet's humour may, with truth, be said to be revived in
It is the particular merit of this Piece, that the Story is
immediately brought home to the Spectator. He becomes
instantly one of the group, and sees them move before
him, marked by their distinctive habits, characters, and
sensations, in the same manner as Chaucer has drawn
them. The idea of the Poet is impressed at the first
view, a humour unforced, agreeable, and comic ; a
pleasurable Tour, sanctijied by the name of Pilgrimage. The
covert ridicule on these eccentric excursions, which
Chaucer intended, is very happily preserved in his Face;
the quiet indifference of one of the Monks, the hypocrisy
of another, and the real piety of a third, are with equal
excellency pourtrayed. The gay levity of the Wife of
4 o PROSPECTUS
Bath, and the countenance of the old Ploughman, worn
down with age and labour, are finely rendered. The
Miller is an admirable character ; and his Horse is as
much in character as himself. The Fop of Chaucer's Age
is exhibited as making a display of his riding ; and the
Sea Captain bestrides his Nag with the usual awkwardness
of the Sailor. The pale and studious countenance of the
Oxford Scholar ; the stateliness of the Lady Abbess ; the
facetiousness and homely humour of the Host, as con-
trasted with the Serjeant at Law, and the Doctor of
Physic; all these peculiarities of character are very
finely and delicately expressed. The costume of each
Person is correct with an antiquarian exactness ; : and
the whole group is so well distributed that each character
is sufficiently seen, and in his due place.
The Scene of the Picture is laid in that part of the
road to Canterbury which commands a view of the Dul-
wich Hills the Time, a beautiful and serene May
Morning. The Pilgrims are grouped with a decorum
suited to their respective characters, and in the order in
which we may suppose Chaucer himself to have seen
them, headed by the Miller, playing upon his pipe,
under the guidance of Harry Baillle, the Host ; who, as
Master of the Ceremonies, is represented standing in his
stirrups, in the act of commanding attention to the pro-
posal he is about to make, of drawing lots to determine
which of the company shall tell the first Tale. Near to
1 Mr, Douce, in his admirable " Illustrations of 'Shakespeare, and
of Ancient Manners," speaking of the zeal which manifests itself
among the leading Artists of the present day to obtain correct
notions of the manners of former times whenever they have occasion
to depict them, observes, that "Mr. Stothard, with every claim to
superior talent, has recently finished a Painting of the Procession
of Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims, which may be classed among
the choicest morsels of its kind. The attention to accuracy of
costume which it displays has never been exceeded, and but very
seldom so well directed." Vol. ii. p. 285.
him is a line of five characters the Knight; the Franklin,
or Country Gentleman ; the Serjeant at Laiv ; the Merchant ;
and the Doctor of Physic. The Young Squire is mounted on
a White Horse near the Knight, and betwixt these two
figures is seen the Reve, or Steward. Close behind the
Squire, his Teaman advances, habited in green. The
front of the next Group is also composed of five charac-
ters The Lady Abbess ; her Nun ; the Nun's Priest ; the Good
Parson; and his Brother, the Ploughman. The figures
immediately behind the Lady Abbess are, the Shipman ; the
Oxford Scholar ; the Manciple ; and Chaucer himself. 1 Next,
mounted upon an ambling Nag, approaches the Wife of
Bath, heading a group of four figures : She is represented
in brisk conversation with the Monk and the Friar ; behind
them are the Pardoner, dressed in blue, and his friend the
Sompnour, in white.
The last group of this motley Cavalcade is composed
of the Goldsmith, the Weaver, the Haberdasher, the Dyer, and
the Tapestry Merchant, all citizens of London, attended by
their Cook : with these jolly Pilgrims the Procession
In justice to the subject before us, the Painter ought
to possess all the powers of description and embellish-
ment ; all the satire, the genuine humour, the knowledge
of life and manners, for each of which the original is so
eminently distinguished. The Proprietor of this under-
taking finds it difficult to express his own and the general
sense of Mr. Stothard's qualifications, without violating
that admirable Artist's known reserve and modesty of
nature. He cannot, however, resist the gratification of
transcribing a letter which appeared in the periodical
paper called " The Artist," addressed to Richard Cumber-
land, Esq., the celebrated Dramatic Writer, by Mr.
1 The Portrait of Chaucer is painted from that in the British
Museum, done by Thomas Occleve, who lived in his time, and was
Hoppner, a gentleman who is himself of the first emi-
nence in his professional capacity of an Historical and
TO RICHARD CUMBERLAND, ESQ.
May 30, 1807.
Dear Sir, Tou desire me to give you some account of the
Procession of Chaucer's Pilgrims, fainted by Stothard, and the
task is a pleasant one ; for the praise called forth by the merits of
a living artist, from a rival in the pursuit of fame , is, I feel
like mercy , twice blessed
"It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."
The Painter has chosen that moment for his Picture ivhen the
Pilgrims may be supposed to have disengaged themselves from the
multitude that bustle in the environs of a great metropolis, and are
collected together by Harry Baillie, their guide and host. The
scene is therefore laid in that part of their road from London that
commands a vieiu of the Dul-wich hills, -where, it may be sup-
posed, the Host could, -without fear of interruption, proclaim his
proposal of dra-wing lots, to determine -who should tell the first
tale. He is represented standing in his stirrups, and appears to
exult in the plan he has formed for their mutual entertainment.
You see the group gently pacing for-ward, all are in motion,
yet too -well satisfied -with each other to be eager for their jour-
ney 1 s end. The features of each individual are touched -with the
most happy discrimination of character, and prove the Painter to
have studied the human heart -with as much attention, and not
less successfully, than the Poet.
This intelligent group is rendered still more interesting by the
charm of colouring, -which, though simple, is strong, and most
harmoniously distributed throughout the picture. The landscape
has a deep-toned brightness, that accords most admirably -with the
figures : and the painter has ingeniously contrived to give a value
to a common scene and "very ordinary forms, that ivould hardly be
found, by unlearned eyes, in the natural objects. He has ex-
pressed too, -with great vivacity and truth, the freshness of
morning, at that season, "when Nature herself is most fresh and
blooming the Spring ; and it requires no great stretch of fancy
to imagine ive perceive the influence of it on the cheeks of the Fair
JVife of Bath, and her rosy companions, the Monk and Friar.
In respect of the execution of the "various parts of this pleasing
design, it is not too much praise to say, that it is "wholly free from
that vice "which painters term manner ; and it has this peculiarity
beside, "which I do not remember to have seen in any picture
ancient or modern, that it bears no mark of the period in ivhich it
was painted, but might very "well pass for the "work of some able
artist of the time of Chaucer. This effect is not, I believe, the
result of any association of ideas connected with the costume, but
appears in a primitive simplicity, and the total absence of all
affectation, either of colour or pencilling.
Having attempted to describe a fetv of the beauties of this
captivating performance, it remains only for me to mention one
great defect The picture is, notwithstanding appearances, a
modern one. But if you can divest yourself of the general
prejudice that exists against contemporary talents, you "will see a
work that ivould have done honour to any school, at any period.
/ am, Dear Sir, &c. &c. ,
CONDITIONS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
The Picture is 3 Feet i Inch long, and i Foot high.
The Print will be executed exactly of the same size.
The Price of the Prints will be Three Guineas ; Proof
Impressions, Five Guineas. Gentlemen who wish to
possess this Engraving are requested to forward their
address to Mr. Cromek, No. 64 Newman Street, London ;
and, as the number of Proof Prints will be limited, an
early application is indispensable.
The Purchasers of this Print are respectfully informed
that it will receive a considerably increased value from
the circumstance of being enriched with an engraved
Portrait of Mr. Stothard, executed by Mr. Schiavonetti,
in the same style of excellence as the subject itself, from
a capital original picture, painted by John Hoppner,
Esq., R.A. , and by that Gentleman obligingly con-
tributed for this purpose.
Printed by MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, EdinlurgJi
PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY
PR Blair, Robert
3318 The grave. new ed